Hey all you alums out there! We are still accepting applications for Summer Term 2012 Alumni Mentors. Island School is looking alumni who want to come back to the Cape, gain teaching experience, and support high school students through this intense summer journey. To read more about the job description, responsibilities, and to apply, click here. The application deadline is February 15. If you have any questions, please contact email@example.com.
[slideshow]The following update was written by caciques Olivia and Maggie from Monday, July 25th.
Excitement filled the air as a couple families joined our 6:30 morning circle and prepared to participate in morning exercise with the students. Grouped in buddies and truddies (three-person buddy groups), we students headed down to the Marina with fresh energy, and introduced our guests to the world of run-swims. The water was refreshing, and some students even saw some rays swimming along with us—a great way to start the day.
After breakfast, students broke off into either their research groups; or had some free time to work on assignments, snorkel with family and friends, or just chill out. Parents joined research class and got the opportunity to see exactly what their children have been doing for the past month.
The aquaculture team got to share an amazing experience with their families. They harvested cobia that was later shared in a community meal for dinner. Students and their families got involved right away to help catch the cobia from the tank. A couple of splashes and laughs later, families jumped right into filleting the cobia. With blood stains and hungry stomachs, they hurried to lunch for a delicious meal.
The sharks team shared an exciting day with parents as well. The team and their families took a boat out to Broad Creek where they experienced field research. After setting up and waiting a while, a lemon shark approached and bit the line. Parents’ excitement shined through their smiling faces when they got to take a picture with the shark.
After lunch, students participated in individual conferences with their parents and their advisors to get feedback on their entire summer term. After those conferences the students quickly prepared for their final research presentations later in the night.
Arriving at the Rock Sound Mission, the students quickly set up their posters and prepared to answer questions. Guests started arriving and immediately everyone became immersed in the amazing presentations that the research groups put together. The presentations were phenomenal and the questions were even better. After a few rotations of intense conversations, everyone gathered to have a tasty local meal including Island School born and raised pork, Bahamian mac n’cheese, fried cobia fingers, sautéed tilapia and baked treats, just to name a few of the delicious featured foods.
After one night back on campus to swap stories and modes of transportation, Summer Term headed back out into the field to explore Eleuthera by kayak and van.
[slideshow]Kayak and Down Island Trip rotations are in full-swing this week at The Island School. On Monday morning the first group of kayakers left Cow Pointe on their three-day paddling excursion, while the rest of the summer term students piled into two vans to head down island. Each group will be out until Wednesday and on Thursday they’ll swap paddles for vans and vice-versa.
The following cacique update was written by Adam and Miya describing their day as caciques, Sunday, July 3.
For the first time in a week the sun was up before us. A good nights rest, attending church with the locals and extended exploration boundaries were the things that our first Sunday off held in store. The 10 o’clock morning circle allowed us a few extra hours of precious sleep before we jumped in the vans and headed to church. We split up into two groups that attended two different churches that members of our school regularly attended. At one church, half of us sang songs from the hymnal, after which the pastor gave an energetic sermon. At the other, the pastor began the service with a quick but inspirational introduction on the powers of patience and believing in God. This preceded soulful singing by members of the church, into which we joined when we felt comfortable.
After we returned from our church visit, we were almost completely let off of our leashes. Many of our boundaries were lifted and we were free to roam over the bridges in the Marina (normally off limits during schooldays) and enter the inner loop. The inner loop is where the remains of an old resort lay, and if you don’t pay attention it is easy to get turned around in the labyrinth of paths from the old golf course. Many of us opted to cross the bridges into the Marina. There, a big group of us stopped by the Marina Coffee shop where we drank delicious smoothies and enjoyed the gentle rays of the sun. After the refreshments our group split up, with some going to sunset beach, some going to play basketball, and the rest watching the sharks that frequent the marina.
As we were biking to the basketball court, some of us noticed fishermen filleting their catches, and a large crowd of sharks gathered. Filled with primarily Nurse sharks, the feeding frenzy entertained a few of us for 45 minutes as we watched the beasts devour every scrap that was tossed to them, with the occasional bird stealing a small scrap or two. The highlight of this time was when a few massive bull sharks joined the mob, and added some violent thrashing to the show. The dominating nine-foot Bull shark can be seen devouring a fish skeleton with this post.
Those who went to sunset beach had a very relaxing swim followed by some tanning. It was a classical day on the beach for them while they tried to get rid of bad tan lines or gain some color.
The group of students who went to play basketball had a very competitive game, which ended with a minor toe injury. The basketball courts were newly discovered turf for many of the players, adding to the multitude of activities that we can enjoy in our free time. Though the game ended in a minor injury everybody had great fun!
Today was one of the most important, because we were able to catch up on sleep and better acquaint ourselves with the island, which we look forward to doing more of in the next few weeks!
New beginnings are a huge part of life at the Island School, and today was no exception. But, the day began just like any other, with vigorous exercise that students used as a way to escape the swarming flies. After an energizing breakfast, the lionfish, conch, sharks, bonefish, and aquaculture research groups headed out for their first day of field work.
The lionfish team went out on a boat to measure patch reefs. The current was too strong though, and the troop of exhausted snorkelers returned to the boathouse to practice identifying fish along transect lines while SCUBA diving.
Those in the conch research group headed out to their first site after a quick review on transects and juvenile conch. They paired up and began surveying conch.
Groups of students also had the opportunity to chat with a local conch fisherman, Niamiah. “At one time,” Niamiah said, “I could freedive over sixty feet.” No student doubted this impressive claim as our masked eyes ogled him from the surface as Niamiah easily retrieved several huge conch from the ocean floor. He proceeded to awe students even more as he skillfully speared a couple of triggerfish. Back at the boathouse, Niamiah taught us the secrets of preparing conch. We were able to “enjoy” raw conch and watch him skin several conch and fish.
Island School students topped of the day with an awesome Saturday night. We waited for the sun to set while playing the Lizz game, which is similar to Charades. We then hit the road for our next activity. After walking down the road to the cut lit only by stars, we went on a nighttime snorkel. Quickly, before chickening out, pairs of students jumped off the low bridge into the water. The current and our adrenaline propelled us towards the next bridge and, for some lucky students, nurse sharks. After a few screams and mild hysteria, everyone climbed out of the water in one piece.
Dripping water and thrilled by the snorkel, we made our way back to campus for a late night treat. Everyone swore they had never eaten brownies with ice cream so fast in their lives! With the sweet, chocolaty taste lingering on our tongues, we drifted off to our beds in search of some much-needed sleep and a great week ahead.
The following cacique update was written by Courtney and Clayton describing their day as caciques, Friday, July 1.
SPLASH!!!! A crowd of students and faculty eagerly dives into the water and begins a long ocean swim towards the Marina. Moments before our day began at 6:30 with the daily circle. Unlike some days when the Island School students express groggy faces, today started as a morning full of excitement. Perhaps the crowd of students was happy that the morning workout was changed from the standard run to an ocean swim.
Today commenced the first day of classes for our research projects. Everyone was excited to say the least. The projects ranged from researching Flats, Lionfish, Lemon Sharks, Conch, and Aquaculture. In Lemon sharks students learned about the electrical “sixth sense” that is located on the tip of all sharks noses. In Lionfish, Flats, and conch everyone was lucky enough to go fishing and possibly get a bit of a tan while learning about the respective catches. In Aquaculture students learned all about the fish they will be working with, and specifically Cobia. Cobia can get up to six feet, the have alternating horizontal white stripes, and have a white underbelly. They live in deeper shallow coastal waters in warmer temperatures. The Cobia are large fish that are perfect for aquaculture because they reproduce and mature quickly and can feed many people because of their enormous size.
Overall, today was a great day and a bit more relaxing than the long days of kayaking and scuba diving. We really can’t wait to learn more about our projects!
Sipping a cold lemonade at the docks by the Marina Store, we gaze out at the never-ending sea, reflecting upon the events of the day:
Well rested from the hour long sleep-in, we felt replenished and ready to conquer the challenge that laid ahead of us as we rolled out of bed. The sound of the Bahamian National Anthem resounded off the dorms around campus, the team morale was at an all-time high. Shortly after breakfast, we rushed towards the boathouse, preparing the boats for our departure. Once all the gear was on each boat, the groups split off, heading in their own direction for the day.
It was our second day of scuba. Everyone was looking forward to furthering the process of our certification. We reached our destinations, strapped on the unwieldy gear, and proceeded to splash into the deep blue water. As we plunged down deeper and deeper, the vivid colors of the coral reefs became much more apparent. Fish glistened in the sun as they darted behind rocks and spongy plants, and the seaweed swayed in the gentle current. Our fins propelled us forward as we explored the reef and its inhabitants. Besides the bubbles grazing our cheeks, pure silence engulfed us. We felt at ease, all the worries of our Human Ecology Homework forgotten, as we glided through the bright blue ocean.
Later, after our underwater expeditions, we hopped on our bikes and pedaled furiously to the Marina Store. After a leisurely stroll down by the pier, a few of us purchased ice-cold refreshments, a perfect end to a perfect day.
Now, standing here, looking out at the horizon, we can’t help but notice the shimmering water that we dove into earlier today. We realize we have taken a giant step up the stairs that is our journey at the Island School; we have come that much closer to certification.
The following cacique update was written by Hana and Taylor describing their day as caciques, Tuesday, June 28:
“I eagerly looked down the path of what would be our four-mile run to High Rock and back. It was intimidating yet exciting as we stretched our limbs, getting ready for our challenging adventure. Following Jenny and Kit, we started to run at a quick pace, which little did we know would make us sweat like we never had before. As we slowly started to get closer to High Rock our fatigue began to set in. Finally we reached High Rock and a few people who didn’t mind chafing decided to jump into the water. We continued on our journey to the flagpole at The Island School. Overall, the run was challenging, but everyone felt great and accomplished afterwards.” -Taylor
“I hesitantly stared down at the water about to submerge myself into it. I grasped my mask and regulator in one hand over my face and my SPG in the other and fell backward into the waves. Orienting myself I quickly listened to David give clear instructions and then began to descend into the clear blue. As I looked above I realized I was doing the supposed impossible: breathing underwater. I was immersed in water and exposed to an environment I had never seen. Like many of my fellow Island School peers, it was my first day SCUBA diving.” –Hana
To become SCUBA certified we had to perform a series of skills. The divers who were certified used this as a refresher to remember the skills they had forgotten. The skills were things such as clearing a mask with water, breathing with your buddy’s alternative air source, and swimming without a mask. Many people were able to complete these tasks, and with a few more open water dives everyone will be SCUBA certified!
Feeling hungry but accomplished, we finished the day with a nice spaghetti meal. Finally we went to bed, looking forward to our sleep-in morning the next day, and preparing ourselves for more SCUBA adventures.
The following cacique update was written by Hope and Olivia describing their day as cacique, Monday, June 27:
My nervous toes tightly clutched the porous honeycomb limestone. The cliff hovered about 20 feet over the light reflecting crystal clear Bahamian water. I could see an area of white sand and several dark spots consisting of seaweed and coral. If I waited any longer to jump I’d fill my head with fears. Trusting the people around me I shut my eyes and leaped forward. Breaking the water feet first gave me a tingling sense of relief at the end of a wonderful high. This simple act of letting go of my fears and trusting others helped to teach me an important lesson. I can hear the fears and worries if I let them happen, but I have to just jump into things trustingly. I know I am in for an exciting adventure. The experiences we are all going to have at The Island School will definitely push our comforts. Each day, however, a new sense of confidence is being built within us. As we continue to try new things, we will strengthen our knowledge of Cape Eleuthera and how we have an impact in our communities. I look forward to which jump we’ll be taking tomorrow.
After our run to high rock and thrilling jump into the water, we headed back to the presentation room to start sharing our Who Am I? projects. From practicing the sport of Parkour to collecting baseball caps for cancer, we learned that each one of us has unique qualities. We spent the next couple of hours exploring different research topics including Flats Ecology, Aquaculture, Shark Conservation, Lionfish Exploration, and Conch Conservation. Everyone chose their favorite topic to research and was very excited to get into the field and start exploring.
The Lopez seminars followed this intro to research and focused on using collaborative thinking to understand and connect the text to our world. We discovered what a querencia meant, our special place in nature to relax out mind and feel connected to the earth. We all started thinking about our own querencia on the island to call our own.
Arguably, the most relaxing time of the day was our free time from 4 to 6. We explored a designated area in which we chose to sign out too. The more ambitious chose to run, bike or swim. Others escaped to the Marina Store, which was disappointingly closed.
We ended the day with dinner circle where we took a moment of silence to reflect on the quote by Albert Einstein “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” The quote the defined our day and gave us all insight for the days to come.